The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize 2016
In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny London flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has bigger things to worry about than generous burglars; he is a telegraphist at the Home Office, which has just received a bomb threat.
Six months later, the mysterious watch saves Thaniel’s life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, and at last, he goes in search of its maker – a kind Japanese man called Keita Mori who has the ability to tell the future.
Then physicist Grace Carrow enters the scene and as their lives become entwined, events spiral out of Thaniel’s control.
Time, destiny, genius – and a clockwork octopus – collide in this ravishing debut literary fantasy. Natasha Pulley takes readers on an enchanting journey through Victorian London, Oxford and civil-war Japan, creating a magical past reminiscent of the work of Susanna Clarke, Philip Pullman, David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman.
Praise for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street might be compared to one of Mori’s clockwork birds: intricate, charming and altogether surprising.’ – Helene Wecker, New York Times
‘Electrifying…a triumph of speculative fiction. Pulley expertly employs the tools of mystery and fantasy to examine the social pressures faced by the marginalised…but the heart of the story is the universal human quest for acceptance, understanding and love.’ – Publishers Weekly
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street proves that well-worn genre tropes – in this case, gaslit steampunkish London and clockwork automata – can be invested with fresh lustre by combining elegant plotting, lashings of invention and jump-off-the-page characterisation. A charming and quietly profound disquisition on predestination, chance and fate.’ – Eric Brown, The Guardian
‘There’s nothing quite like putting down a delightful, relentlessly charming and deeply moving book and then finding out it’s the author’s first. “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street” is a remarkable debut, and I look forward to seeing what Pulley does next.’ – Amal El-Mohtar, Los Angeles Times
‘Fresh and surprising…This is more than just a well-paced, atmospheric mystery with elements of fantasy. Pulley is concerned with deeper questions of fate, chance, and trust. How dangerous is a man who knows in advance the likelihood of every possible event? When does probability crystallize into inevitability, and how could the future affect the present? The story thwarts expectations; whenever an outcome looks as predetermined as clockwork, it might well go another way. Clever and engaging, this impressive first novel will reward both casual readers looking for a fun period adventure and those fascinated by the tension between free will and fate.’ – Kirkus, starred review
‘This delightful first novel is as impressive as a work of historical fiction, with its evocative details of 19th-century England on the cusp of technological and cultural revolutions, as it is a delicate fantasy with enough gadgetry to pull in the steampunk fans, and a mystery to boot.’ – Library Journal